Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spell Checkers by Jamie S. Rich, Nicolas Hitori De, Joelle Jones

WARNING: This review contains annoyance, dislike, disappointment, some unpleasant quotations, and SPOILERS.

I'm extremely glad I requested this via inter-library loan from outside our system. I'd seen a few less-than-positive reviews, but the premise sounded intriguing and I liked the preview pages I saw, so I went ahead and found it in another library system. I'm glad I didn't order it because it was awful.

Three nasty teens are also witches (in a flashback later in the story, it's revealed that they stole their magic book from a Wiccan witch who only used it to do good. Her fate is left unknown, although it was probably unpleasant.) Unlike most teens in fantasy fiction, having gained powers from the spell book and by combining themselves into an even more powerful trio, they definitely don't use their powers for good, angst about their role, or worry about ethics. They use their magic to get whatever they want, and obviously all lesser humans are dirt beneath their oh-so-chic boots. One wonders why they bother attending high school at all, since they never study, often send golems to the classes they don't like, and have their parents under their control through use of their magic. Anyways, one day one of the girls finds graffiti on her locker. Then a second girl of the trio is targeted. Then their magic begins to weaken and they realize they've been cursed. After various fights and manipulation, they decide it's the third member doing it, go to her house during her party (she's used a spell to knock out her parents for the weekend) and publicly humiliate her. Which turns out to be a mistake, since the person who's really been doing it immediately bobs up. Turns out, one of the witches cheated her out of winning a spelling bee and she's been gunning for them ever since. She's learned magic solely to turn them against each other and stolen the boy they like....except, the three witches could care less about the boy. The distraught ex-speller calls up a demon, which promptly eats the hapless boy, and the three witches then proceed to trick him out of servitude to the ex-speller by offering their (non-existent) virginity. They dispose of the demon and look forward to the services of the ex-speller, now their slave.

The text is liberally sprinkled with obscenities, profanity, sexual innuendo, and verbal abuse. The girls' treatment of each other isn't actually much better than the way they control the school and it's clear that their friendship is completely dependent on their own comfort. As a picture of the sheer stupidity and nastiness of certain adolescents, I suppose one could call it realistic. There are a few humorous moments, but that's about it for redeeming qualities.

An additional gripe - it's labeled "Teen age 13+". I've heard complaints from other people about Oni Press' rating system (Courtney Crumrin for 7 year olds? I think not) but this is ridiculous. A little sample dialogue..."Sleep with one eye open and your legs closed, you slut! I'm going to rip you apart!" "Bring it on, you cow!" I thought that was the sample least likely to offend anybody. Profanity and obscenities when they're part of the story and contribute something to the plot or characters is one thing. But since there isn't really much of a plot and one certainly doesn't want any insight into the icky characters, it's rather unnecessary.

Verdict: A pointless story about nasty people with gratuitous foul language. Not recommended.

ISBN: 978-1934964323; Published May 2010 by Oni Press; Borrowed from the library

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